Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Antonin Dvořák

Dr. Bob Prescribes Antonin Dvořák in America

Antonin Dvořák arrived in the United States (with most of his family in tow) on September 27, 1893. He had been offered and had accepted the Directorship of the National Conservatory of Music of America by the conservatory’s visionary founder, Jeanette Meyers Thurber. On his arrival, Dvořák hit the ground running. Along with his directorship, his teaching and conducting responsibilities, he was composing: he put the finishing touches on his Symphony No. 9 in E minor, also-known-as the “New World Symphony” on May 24, 1893, just eight months after having arrived in New York. Lest we think that Dvořák’s life was all work and no play, we’d observe that he was treated like royalty in New York: partied, feted, honored, and applauded wherever he went. (He also drank everyone under the table wherever he went, but that’s another story for another time.) For all his homesickness, fear of strangers, and hypochondria, it must have been exhilarating for this former butcher’s apprentice. But it was elementally exhausting as well, and by the time he finished his E minor symphony in late May 1893, Dvořák was utterly fried. Summer break was approaching, and decisions needed to be made as to where and […]

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Music History Monday: Dvořák in America

We mark the arrival on September 27, 1892 – 129 years ago today – of the Bohemian-born Czech composer Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) to the United States, here to take up the Directorship of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. He retained the directorship for 2½ years – until March of 1895 – at which time he and his family returned to Prague. Antonin Dvořák in 1891 By 1891 – at the age of fifty – Dvořák was that rarest of living composers: successful, appreciated by a worldwide public, and relatively wealthy. Regarded by many as the second-greatest living composer after Brahms, the nationalist Czech-accent with which Dvořák’s music spoke made it, in reality, much more “popular” than Brahms’ music. It was Dvořák’s fame as a “nationalist” composer that brought him to the attention of a rich American woman by the name of Jeanette Meyers Thurber (1850-1946). Mrs. Thurber was the wife of a wholesale grocer and was, herself, a musician of talent, having been educated at the Paris Conservatoire.  Jeanette Thurber was one of the greatest patrons of music the United States has ever known. I would suggest that had she given her name to any of […]

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